Language Learning · Motivation · Personal

Starting Another Language Journey

For a while I’ve been thinking about picking up another language once I felt like I had a good enough grasp of Korean that I’d be able to start learning that language through Korean. Since I’ve been using Korean grammar books written in Korean for probably about half a year now, I thought maybe it’d be something I’d be able to do soon. And actually, just these past couple of days I’ve slowly started picking up a new language through Korean.

There’s this Italian polyglot on YouTube called Luca Lampariello that I watch from time to time. I remember having watched a video he did once on falling in love with a language where he sort of uses relationships as an analogy for language learning. Like how you’re first just sort of infatuated with someone, and then as you get to know them and start a relationship you move into the honey moon phase. And after that how it’s a lot of just choosing to stick with it and choosing to love your partner. He talks about how similarly with learning a foreign language, some experience might spark some interest in that language initially and then when you start learning in the beginning being motivated to study all the time is pretty easy. But then later down the road, when you for example reach the infamous intermediate plateau, then you have to choose to continue learning that language every day. And sometimes it’s really fun, but other times it can also be frustrating. But you just keep going.

So what happened just this Saturday is that I think I probably, if not completely fell in love with, at least got a little spark for the Japanese language. And I’ve decided to try and turn that spark into a small fire and see where that takes me. So there’s this rock band from Japan called One Ok Rock that I’ve been listening to for quite some time now. And Saturday night I finally had an opportunity to see them live right here in Copenhagen. And honestly, it was probably the best concert experience I’ve ever had. Being in a room full of people who are just as excited to see this artist that they really admire and to finally get out all those lyrics that have been stuck in your head for months or even years. It was just a really amazing experience, and one that I probably won’t forget anytime soon.

So on Sunday with my legs, arms and neck all sore from jumping around for hours, with my entrance stamp still left on my wrist and with some awesome memories still fresh in my mind, I started my Japanese journey. So these past couple of days I’ve just been starting to learn the phonetic part of the Japanese alphabet and learned a few basic phrases. I actually already had my first “hey I understood something!!”-moment in Japanese while I was scrolling through my Instagram feed earlier Today. Yay!

Also this is just a little finishing tangent, but I’ve noticed that for the most part the main thing that seems to get me interested in different languages initially is music. At least that has been the case for both German, Korean and now also Japanese. Funny how that works. I’ve actually also been thinking about writing a post sometime about how and why I started learning Korean. But that’s got to wait for another time.

But anyway, for now I’m just really excited to learn more! 화이팅합시다!

Korean · Language Learning · Video Games

Basic Korean Gaming Vocabulary

Like many other people I quite enjoy playing the occasional video game. Although I haven’t been playing much since starting university, because studying, Korean and various other obligations easily fill up my entire week. But recently I thought that it might be fun to try and start playing a bit again and try to play some stuff in Korean! So I’ve composed a little list of words that might be useful if you want to play video games in Korean. The game I’ve probably played the most in Korean is Overwatch, so some of these words are somewhat skewed to being more relevant to FPS games.

  • 키 – key
  • 키보드 – keyboard
  • 설정 – setup / settings
  • 실행 – to run / execute a program
  • 종료 – end / terminate
  • 누르다 – push (e.g. a button, key)
  • 오른쪽 – right (side)
  • 왼쪽 – left (side)
  • 기술 – skill / technique
  • 무기 – weapon
  • 전투 – combat / battle
  • 대전 / 전쟁 – a great war, a world war / a war
  • 총 – gun
  • 폭탄 – bomb
  • 영웅 – hero
  • 악당 – villain
  • 임무 / 미션 – mission
  • 승리 – victory

So that’s just a small collection of words that I thought might be useful. Personally I actually learned a lot of English from playing small games online as a kid/young teenager. Because there really aren’t a lot of video games that are translated into Danish (unless they’re games for really young children), so I would just play games in English. Actually some of the very first words that I ever learnt in English were things like arrow keys, jump, left/right and space bar.

I also remember in school that a lot of the kids that were the best at English were people who played a lot of video games (since they didn’t have access to games that were in Danish). So I think playing games can be pretty good for language learning! But regardless, it’s also just a lot of fun 🙂 I hope everyone’s having fun studying Korean because I’ve certainly been enjoying learning more gaming related vocabulary. Which, by the way, coincidentally seems would also be quite relevant if I were to pick up a Korean history book. Because of all the war-related vocabulary.

Korean · Korean Drama · Korean progress

Word Feature #2: 털털하다

It’s time for another Word Feature, where I introduce some Korean word that I happen to find interesting. Today’s word is 털털하다. As I think I’ve mentioned before I always enjoy learning these double syllable -하다 verbs, because they’re usually nice and easy to remember. I came across this word while watching a web drama called 연애플레이리스트 (or 연플리 for short), which I’ve enjoyed watching recently. As someone who doesn’t always have the time (or patience) to watch a full episode of a regular TV drama in one go (those things can be over an hour long sometimes), I quite like that the episodes of this web drama is usually just around 5-10 minutes. So that fits me quite well since I often end up watching normal dramas of 10-minute fragments anyway.

I looked this word both on Naver dictionary and also consulted Reddit to get a better feel for what it means. So from the explanation I read this word is used to describe people in general, but in particular girls (because men are already assumed to be 털털하다) that are very tomboyish, who are very easy-going, down-to-earth and who don’t care too much about keeping up appearances. I also read that it’s generally a positive word, but that you can also be too 털털해 if for example you’re shamelessly farting and burping all over the place… 😆

I actually came across 털털하다 in the very first episode of 연플리, so if you’d like to check out this web drama and also see the word used in context, I’ve put the first episode down below 🙂

Korean · Language Learning · Reading

Different Ways of Reading in a Foreign Language

So, at least in my own personal experience, reading is a really good way to improve your foreign language abilities. At least I can’t remember a time that I felt like my English was improving faster than back when I started reading lots and lots of books in English. I really do feel that reading had a really big impact especially on my ability to construct longer and more complex sentences. And of course it also expanded my vocabulary a lot.

So, when you’re reading in a foreign language there are generally two different ways you can go about it: 1. Read while looking up more or less any new words, expressions or grammar points or 2. Reading while just trying to understand as much as possible without really looking anything up (or maybe just the odd word if it keeps popping up). So basically there’s the more intensive reading and the reading where you’re just doing it for fun. I think that there are different things you can gain from different ways of reading and that’s what I’d like to talk a bit about Today.

Let’s first take a look at just reading for fun and for your own enjoyment. With this kind of reading you obviously have to be able to understand most of what you’re reading or at least be able to understand enough that you’re able to get the general meaning. Otherwise you’re sort of just looking at a bunch of incomprehensible symbols and you’re probably not going to gain very much from that. When you’re reading this way you of course get to review things that you already know and it will further solidify that knowledge. But you’ll also be able to pick up new words from the context and learn new ways to express certain things. One advantage of this way of reading is definitely also that it really doesn’t require too much energy and it’s something you can just do to relax. Thus it’s something that easy to do a lot of.

Then there’s also reading more intensely while looking up anything that you’re not already familiar with. So obviously what you gain from this is that you’ll be able to learn a lot of new vocabulary, fixed expressions and grammar. In my opinion I think this is pretty much the best way to expand your vocabulary. Because you’re reading (vs. listening) you’re able to look everything up that you don’t understand and you also get to see all the new words that you learn in context. With this type of reading you also have a lot more choice of what to read since you’re less restricted by what you already know. You can pretty much just read about anything that interests you, even if there are lots of unknown words.

Personally I also think it’s nice to switch between reading easier and more difficult reading material in this way. It’s nice to have a balance between the two. Because when I’m reading stuff that (relative to the current level of my Korean) is easier then it feels like I’m sort of harvesting the fruits of my labor and I get to see my progress. Whereas if I’m reading materials that are more difficult to understand it motivates me to work harder because I become more aware of all the things that I still don’t know.

Korean · Korean Music · Language Learning

Word feature #1: 외유내강

I feel like one really interesting thing when learning a new language is discovering words and expressions that don’t have good direct translations into other languages. So it can either be words/expressions that are closely tied to some cultural phenomenon that not so common in other countries or it can simply be by circumstance that some words exist in one language but not in another. So basically words when you first learn what they mean you think to yourself: “Wow, that so cool that there’s a word for that. It’d be pretty cool if my language had a word like that!”. I feel like I come across words like this pretty often and I always enjoy learning words/expressions like this, so I thought it might be fun to make a little blog-series introducing words like this.

So the first “word” that I want to talk about is actually a 사자성어 – a four-character proverb originated from Chinese. The proverb is 외유내강 (外柔內剛) which according to Naver dictionary means: “being gentle in appearance, but sturdy[tough] in spirit”. I came across this word when I was reading the lyrics of a song called Yellow Iverson by Owen Ovadoz. Also a little side note: all the definitions of words I’ve written in this blog post I’ve taken from Naver dictionary. I’d recommend that you still look up any words you don’t know and look at some example sentences to get a better feeling for what they mean. Rather than just relying simply on the direct translation.

But anyway, let’s try to break down the 외유내강 (外柔內剛) into individual characters and look at their meaning:

외 (外): out, outside (of), excluding, external, foreign
example words: 외교관 (diplomat), 외국어 (foreign language), (~을) 제외하다 (except for something)

유 (柔): soft, gentle, pliant
example words: 유연하다 (flexible, pliable, (e.g. movement, motion) fluid) (this was the only word I could think of off the top of my head)

내 (內): inside, within, interior, domestic
example words: 국내 (domestic, inside the country), 내용 (content), 내복 (long underwear)

강 (剛): hard, tough, rigid, strong
I actually wasn’t able to think of any examples for this specific 강. All the words I know with 강 are words with 강 (强). But do let me know if you guys know any!

Out of curiosity i tried to look up the opposite: 외강내유 – so looking tough on the outside, but be soft or weak on the inside. And apparently that’s also a real word that exists in the dictionary. So now if you ever want to talk about someone that seem to sort of have a mismatch between their personality and their outer appearance, at least in terms of their level of ‘toughness’ and ‘softness’, now you know how!

Also, here’s the song where I came across this proverb, if you guys’d like to give it a listen 🙂

Korean · Korean Music · Language Learning

The Power of Music in Language Learning

I’ve already written a blog post about learning Korean with songs, in which I also talk about some of the advantages of using music to study Korean. But I just had a couple of experiences recently that made me notice how often I come across words that I’ve either learnt through songs or I’ve been able to remember more easily because I’ve heard them in a song before.

Recently I was studying with my Integrated Korean grammar book and at the beginning of each chapter there’s a list of new words that will show up in that chapter. So I was just going through to see if there were any new words that I didn’t know and just out of curiousity I started trying to recall where I had learnt the words on the list that I did know. And I noticed that for quite a lot of them I associated them with different songs. I would just look at surprisingly many of the words and immediately a specific song would pop up in my head.

Another time I was reading a book and came across the word 지독하다. It looked very, very familiar but at the same I couldn’t quite recall what it meant. But then after a few seconds suddenly my brain went “지독하게 너무 지독하게 너를 사랑했나 봐~”. Ah yes, obviously 지독하게 (Severely) by FTISLAND. A song I’ve listened to I don’t know how many times.

This has happened so, so many times. There’ll be some word that I’ve heard in a song many times, but without knowing what the word means. And that word will just randomly get stuck in my mind because I’ve listened to that particular song so many times. And then when I eventually look up the lyrics or when I come across the word in a text I’m reading it’ll usually just stick in my memory really easily. Because your brain already has that connection to the word. That’s been my experience at least.

Here’s the song I mentioned, so you guys can also appreciate the amazingness of Lee Hong-ki’s voice live. The lyrics are on screen as well so you guys can read along if you’d like 🙂

Korean · Korean Resources · Language Learning · Personal · Study Techniques

Watching Korean Shows with Double Subtitles + Update

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written any blog posts. To make a long story short I’ve been busy moving out of my parents’ house and adjusting to living on my own as well as being sick for a while. All the while taking some of the most difficult courses I’ve taken in uni so far. So there’s just been a whole lot of just trying to keep up with schoolwork these past few months. So my time and energy for Korean, let alone blogging, has been pretty limited. But now my much-needed summerbreak has started, so I’ve been back to studying Korean more again and now also blogging! 🙂

So I’d like to share some of the methods I’ve been using to study / maintain my Korean for these past few months. So basically things that aren’t too draining but that you can still learn from. Because that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of. It’s not all I’ve done though. I did also do some more “deliberate” studying. Like I went through my Integrated Korean Intermediate 1 and started intermediate 2 while reviewing grammar points and vocabulary. I also managed to read a good 70 or so pages in my first ‘real’ Korean book (Big Bang’s 세상에 너를 소리쳐). But other than that I’ve mostly just been watching Tv-shows and YouTube videos, just looking up the occasional word if it would keep popping up again and again. Basically I’ve just been spending most of my “study” time enjoying the Korean that I’ve already learnt so far. And one thing in particular I’ve enjoyed doing is watching shows while having both Korean and English subtitles simultaneously.

There’s this site called Viki. If you haven’t heard of it before it’s basically just a website that has different Asian Tv-shows, dramas and movies with subtitles in various languages. On this site you can turn something on called ‘Learn Mode’ where when you’re watching something it’ll have first the Korean subtitles and then underneath it’ll have the English subtitles. So then you can immediately see the meaning of words and/or expressions that you don’t know without having to look everything up in the dictionary. There are also a decent amount of Korean YouTubers that have subtitles in both Korean and English at the same time. So that’s another option as well.

I think this is just a really fun way to learn and a way to ‘study’ without really studying. Especially if you’re sort of at a level in Korean where you understand most words and in general there aren’t any more than maybe 1-2 words in a sentence that you don’t know, then it’s pretty easy to pick out what it translates to from the English translation below. I think it can also be quite good to see how a whole sentence would be translated. Because sometimes when you’re reading or listening to something in a foreign language, even if you know every word and all the grammar points of a particular sentence, it can sometimes be difficult to make out the meaning. So you can learn new expressions and ways of phrasing things as well. So I think this is also pretty good for that.

Anyway, I hope you’re all having fun studying Korean and, for those of you who live in a place where it’s currently summer, that you’re enjoying the summer 😀